Getting Lucky With Lyft

We are pleased to partner with Lyft to pull off the largest Mode they’ve executed at this scale on a single day.
Users who opt-in to Lucky Mode will be picked up in a gold-wrapped car with a gold treasure chest waiting for them in the back seat. If they find the lucky key before the ride ends, they keep the treasure.
Lucky Mode is live for two days in 8 markets: SF, San Diego, Orange County, Phoenix, Chicago, Northern New Jersey, Boston, and Miami.
And did we forget to mention that we also partnered with the kings of St. Patty’s Day, THE Dropkick Murphys?
Read more about Lucky Mode: and take a look at the promo video we created below.



Sunnier Side of the Office

Facebook To Launch News for Watch

Facebook is prepping to launch a news section for its Watch platform, according to Axios. The social network has reached out to both legacy and digital news publishers to test a daily video feature.

As we’ve written about a few times, Facebook earlier this year announced sweeping changes to its newsfeed algorithm in which it would de-prioritize publishers’ and brands’ posts in favor of posts from users’ Facebook friends. At the time, Facebook said it was trying to combat passive engagement and encourage more meaningful engagement.

“While executives have said they don’t know exactly how they will measure meaningful engagement through comments and shares, creating a news product that’s native to the platform and includes content from vetted publishers will hopefully drive less passive engagement and curb the spread of misinformation on its platform,” said Axios.

This move comes after a year in which Facebook was forced to acknowledge the spread of fake news sites on its platform. As Axios wrote this could be an opportunity for the platforms to guide users to credible news sources, especially during a breaking news cycle.

Creating Balance: The Future of The Economist‘s Readership

By Arthi Veeraragavan

The Economist announced it is actively pursuing an audience that they believe will allow them to increase their global readership: women.

Recent figures put subscribers at 1.4 million, with the gender split heavily under-representing women. Currently, less than 30% of subscribers are female.

To balance this figure, the publisher has partnered with Ipsos, a leading market research company, to conduct an analysis of how various audiences perceive nuances in language style. The purpose of the research is to help increase relevancy amongst women, with the publisher’s EVP of Circulation and Retail Marketing stating, “There are societal elements that people have that mean they perceive communications differently, and we’re adjusting that to improve our relevance among female prospects.”

While it will take time to balance out The Economist’s current gender split, if successful, brands will have a greater opportunity to reach their target audience through the publisher. Additionally, language research could become a tactic leveraged by more publishers that are looking for ways to increase relevancy amongst specific demographic groups.

Networks Are Removing Clutter To Improve TV Viewing

Digiday has a good overview of TV networks cutting down on their ad loads as they work to adjust to consumers’ changing viewing habits.

Fox Networks Group plans to cut advertising on its networks to two minutes per hour by 2020. NBCUniversal said it will reduce the number of ads in its ad pods by 20% and the total ad time by 10% on more than 50 original prime-time programs across its networks. Turner has also made some announcements in this space for TruTV and TNT.

As Digiday points out, these moves are the exception at this point, as TV national ad loads are still on the rise. But these announcements illustrate how networks are realizing that because of the rise of Hulu, Netflix and video-on-demand services, tolerance for ad load time is decreasing.

“The average episode of NBC’s ‘The Voice’ is watched for 35 minutes on live, linear TV,” said Digiday. “That jumps to 43 minutes on connected TV devices and 48 minutes on digital video recorders. With video on demand, time spent is at an average 51 minutes.”

Even with the decrease in ads on network TV, media companies may be able to charge advertisers more, as less commercial time makes the inventory more scarce, and therefore ad rates could actually go up.

This Week in Social: AI With a Side of LOL

By Melissa Santiago

Machines listening to our conversations and mining them for data is not breaking news, but like something straight out a dystopian thriller, Amazon’s Alexa home devices have reportedly been emitting laughter, and people are not amused.

According to The Verge, “Alexa seemed to start laughing without being prompted to wake. People on Twitter and Reddit reported that they thought it was an actual person laughing near them, which is certainly scary if you’re home alone.”

After people started sharing Alexa’s creepy laughter on Twitter and reddit, many owners of the devices opted to disconnect theirs.

Amazon has acknowledged the issue and says it has a fix for the problem: “In rare circumstances, Alexa can mistakenly hear the phrase ‘Alexa, laugh.’ We are changing that phrase to be ‘Alexa, can you laugh?’ which is less likely to have false positives, and we are disabling the short utterance ‘Alexa, laugh.’ We are also changing Alexa’s response from simply laughter to ‘sure, I can laugh’ followed by laughter.”

Seems like an easy problem to solve, but raises the question, why would Alex need to be programmed with laughter? I mean, whatever — as long as she doesn’t start responding with, “I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

Sunnier Side of the Office

Reality Check Is Coming for Subscription-Thirsty Publishers

Facebook in January announced its sweeping algorithm change: The platform would place more priority on user content than on organic brand and publisher content. This move served as a painful reminder that has long flummoxed publishers — digital ad revenue is often an untenable revenue model, especially when revenue can be so deeply affected by changes in platform algorithms.

Some observers have said in light of this change that a bright spot for publishers is subscription-based revenue. There is one big problem. For most publishers, the subscription-based model isn’t a feasible one to rely on for a significant portion of revenue. Sure, you’ve seen publications like the New York Times tout their subscription growth, but the fact is that it won’t work for most publications.

From Digiday: “The reigning perception is still that most online news can be gotten for free. A 2017 Reuters Institute survey found 16 percent in the U.S. paid for online news in 2017, up from 9 percent in 2016. That sounds impressive, but 79 percent still said it was “somewhat or very unlikely” that they’d pay for online news in the future.”

RIP, LittleThings, a Facebook Algorithm Casualty

 By Katie McKinley

Also related to the Facebook January algorithm change: its first known casualty. While the update is meant to be a positive for consumers, it has already begun impacting publishers that relied heavily on the reach Facebook provides.

Last week, LittleThings, a fast-growing lifestyle site that built its audience by sharing feel-good content on Facebook, shut down after the algorithm change, ultimately putting 100 people out of work. What was once a great case study for building audiences through Facebook is now a cautionary tale for sites depending too much on a singular traffic source.

LittleThings started out as a pet e-commerce site, PetFlow, and grew to become a publisher focusing on feel-good content to engage PetFlow’s largely female customer base. The site specialized in sharing pet videos, underdog stories, acts of kindness and parenting content.

LittleThings’ audience grew to about 50 million uniques in only three years, thanks largely to their use of Facebook as a distribution channel, accounting for about 75% of its traffic.

CEO Joe Speiser often dismissed comparisons to other Facebook-grown publications like Upworthy and explained that publishers need to adapt with Facebook’s changes and “as long as you constantly pivot to that, within the Facebook ecosystem, you’ll be fine.”

 But that success didn’t last, and it’s entirely possible that other publishers who built their success on Facebook will meet similar fates.

Facebook Releases CPMs for 2016 Election Campaign, Everyone Outside Advertising Asks, “What are CPMs?”

Facebook last week saw itself having to respond to a Wired article written by former Facebook employee (and Chaos Monkeys author) Antonio Garcia Martinez, suggesting the Trump 2016 election campaign paid lower CPMs (cost per thousand ad impressions) in Facebook’s ad auction than Hillary Clinton, thanks to its allegedly more engaging creative. Brad Parscale, the digital director of the Trump 2016 campaign, supported that claim in a tweet.

This prompted Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s VP of AR (and former VP of ads), to respond on Twitter (LOL) with a chart that shows the Trump campaign actually paid higher CPMs on most days than the Clinton campaign did.

I’m willing to bet that before last week, most people outside the industry didn’t know what a CPM was, and probably still don’t. But if you’d like a fun rundown of this “spicy drama” about CPMs, read this meme-laden BuzzFeed story.

This Week in Social: When Life Gives You Lemons, Take a Bite and Go Viral  

By Jessica Gaylord

In 2014, the Internet was abuzz with Ice Bucket Challenge videos, a viral sensation that raised awareness and millions of dollars in charity for the ALS Association. 2018 has ushered in a new viral phenomenon for charity called Lemons for Leukemia Challenge.

Friends Chris Betancourt, 20, and Dillon Hill, 19, started the challenge in an attempt to set a World Record for the most donors added to the national bone marrow registry within a 24-hour period. Similar to the Ice Bucket Challenge, the Lemons for Leukemia social media campaign calls on participants to record themselves biting into a raw lemon, post the reaction online, and then challenge others to join them.

Despite setting the bone marrow registry record on March 1, interest in the Lemons for Leukemia Challenge has not soured. From the Good Morning America news team to actors Dwayne Johnson and Danny Devito participating, puckering up for the cause continues to take off online.

Sunnier Side of the Office

Facebook Simplifies Metrics After Data-reporting Issues and Advertiser Confusion

Facebook last week announced it was simplifying some of its metrics for advertisers, a move that comes after some previous metrics mishaps and advertiser confusion over its data.

According to the Wall Street Journal: “Facebook is taking steps to appease advertisers after acknowledging over the past year and a half several discrepancies or flaws in its data, which undermined marketers’ trust in the company’s data-reporting practices. In the wake of those errors, Facebook agreed to undergo audits by the media industry’s measurement watchdog, the Media Rating Council, a year ago.”

One new change will be that Facebook will more clearly mark when data points are estimated or still in development.

Snapchat Plans To Double Number of Video Shows

By Ben Shapiro

Snapchat plans to double the number of publisher produced video shows it will release this year to roughly 80, according to Digiday. This move is likely a way to attract brands seeking to promote premium video content, an opportunity many publishers lost with Facebook’s Newsfeed algorithm update.

In 2016, Snapchat launched its Shows section. Since then, the offering has been dominated by companies like NBCUniversal, A&E Networks, and ESPN, while digital publishers have been encouraged to create magazine-style content for Discover.

Snapchat’s expansion of video content feels very similar to Facebook’s development of Watch, a video streaming service. However, there are key differences that set the two apart:

  • Funding: While Facebook Watch contributes funds to produce shows on their platform, Snapchat will not be subsidizing the production of its programs.

  • Revenue: On Facebook Watch, brands keep 55% of ad revenues whereas those on Snapchat’s platform will keep an even 50%.

  • Rights: Brands will also own the rights to the shows they produce for Snapchat, unlike those that do the same for Facebook Watch.

Scroll Signs On Publishers for Service That Will Curb Their Ads

Here’s an interesting twist on ad blocking. Scroll is a new startup working to get publications on board with charging readers for an ad-free experience, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Readers would pay $5 a month for a subscriptions service that lets them read articles on participating publishers’ websites, without being interrupted by ads. A number of publications have already signed up for the service, including Business Insider, Fusion Media Group, the Atlantic, MSNBC and Slate.

Tony Haile, former Chartbeat CEO, co-founded the company in 2016 amid the rise in popularity of ad blocking software. Publishers have been under intense revenue pressure for years, though that stress has come into sharper focus in recent years, not only as ad blocking gains popularity but as Facebook and Google’s dominance in the digital ad revenue market continues to strengthen.

As the Journal notes, “Scroll is unlikely to stop the use of ad blockers or persuade a majority of news readers to sign up, but it does offer publishers a way to appease consumers who want to avoid the intrusion of advertising while making incremental revenue.”

Snap Inc. and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Tweet

By Melissa Santiago

Is Snap, Inc doing well? According to the stock market and lip gloss maven Kylie Jenner, no. Jenner tweeted last week,”sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad.”

Less than 24 hours after her tweet, Snap’s stock fell $1.3 billion in market value, according to Bloomberg. Countless headlines ran saying Jenner killed Snapchat, but that’s likely an oversimplification.

For one, “before Jenner announced her Snapchat betrayal, Wall Street wasn’t so hot on the company,” said Fast Company, adding that after the app’s recent redesign, “Citi downgraded Snap’s stock from ‘neutral’ to ‘sell’ the day before the Jenner tweet.”

Snap’s stock prices have had a tumultuous ride since CEO Evan Spiegel rang the NASDAQ opening bell in March 2017 for its IPO. Its most recent trouble was a data leak that revealed low user numbers. This led to promises to investors that the aforementioned redesign was coming, and along with it, hopefully, user growth.

How have others responded to the redesign? Well, there’s been a flood of memes pointing out how difficult Snapchat’s new design is to navigate. Not to mention a petition, which has 1.2 million signatures, asking Snap to revert to the old version of the app.

Snap responded saying it hears everyone’s complaints but isn’t going to revert back to the old design just because people are complaining.


Audi Wins Three Graphis Awards

Good news for our friends at Audi! We worked with Audi and photographers Reuben Wu and RJ Muna to create stunning photos for Audi’s Instagram feed.

Not content with the same old automotive photography, we traveled everywhere — from the Ice Castles in New Hampshire to Transylvania to the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah — to create magazine-editorial worthy photographs for Instagram.

We’re delighted Audi’s trip to Transylvania won Gold and Silver in the Automotive category. The visit to the Mars Desert Research Station series (above) took home a Silver, also in the Automotive category.

Congrats to all!

Sunnier Side of the Office

Google’s Chrome Ad Blocker is Here

Google rolled out its built-in Chrome ad blocker last week, a move that is expected to make a big impact on the web. Its goal is to block annoying ads, such as auto-play ads with sound and pop-up ads, with a particular emphasis on mobile ads. It will also blacklist sites that violate specific guidelines, and then filter all ads on those sites (though so far the number of sites in violation is very small).

“The company notified sites in advance that they would be subject to the filtering, and 42 percent made preemptive changes, the spokesperson says, including Forbes, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and In Touch Weekly,” said Wired.

Google’s evaluation of ads is based on the Coalition For Better Ads standards. The Coalition is a group of major digital advertising players, including Google, Facebook, GroupM, Crieto and many more. The Wall Street Journal reported that “several coalition members said Google conceived of the coalition and conducted the bulk of the research it used to determine which ads should be blocked.”

More than 59% of internet users use Chrome, so it does pretty much force ad-reliant publishers to comply with the standards. Many publishers are welcoming the changes, though some are reportedly somewhat uncomfortable with the company’s power.

Google’s AMP Project Releases New Story Format

By Katharine Painter

In 2015, Google launched the AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) Project to accelerate load time of content on mobile devices. In basic terms, the AMP Project is a set of guidelines that a website developer follows when creating mobile web pages to allow nearly instantaneous page loading and smooth scrolling. Today, there are nearly 31 million AMP domains.

Last week, Google announced the launch of the AMP story format, similar to stories on Snapchat and Instagram. The story format is now available for anyone to use; however, CNN, Mashable, and Conde Nast are some of the first adopters. Stories appear within Google search, allowing publishers to connect with consumers as they’re actively seeking information.

As consumers are spending more time on their mobile devices, it’s important for publishers to tell an intriguing story, while also fulfilling expectations of a quick loading, smooth user experience.

While ads aren’t currently available in this format, a Google spokesperson mentioned that details around advertising will be released in the upcoming weeks. Since stories will be created from scratch, it’ll be interesting to see if publishers use resources to develop new posts. If they do, brands will have new ways to incorporate themselves within this content.

Audi Wins Three Graphis Awards

Good news for our friends at Audi! We worked with Audi and photographers Reuben Wu and RJ Muna to create stunning photos for Audi’s Instagram feed. Not content with the same old automotive photography, we traveled everywhere — from the Ice Castles in New Hampshire to Transylvania to the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah — to create magazine-editorial worthy photographs for Instagram.

We’re delighted Audi’s trip to Transylvania won Gold and Silver in the Automotive category. The visit to the Mars Desert Research Station series (above) took home a Silver, also in the Automotive category.

Congrats to all!

How Facebook’s Vision for Democracy Crumbled

By Jessica Gaylord

Wired released an in-depth report last week detailing how Facebook’s defensive, confused behavior led the platform to “disaster.” Around two years ago, Facebook wanted to be the platform for breaking news. However, it’s clear that Facebook did not carefully consider the implications of becoming a dominant force in the news industry. Mark Zuckerberg saw Facebook as an open, neutral platform. He had to, or else Facebook would be responsible for the content its users put out into the world based on Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.

To maintain this image, as well as avoid regulation, Facebook started presenting every piece of information to its users regardless of its veracity. Sensational headlines and fake news became favored in the algorithm, which Russian operatives took advantage of for the 2016 presidential election. But Facebook didn’t catch this until it was too late—leading it to only now take steps to rectify the damage. The article is worth reading, even if you don’t personally use Facebook.

Sunnier Side of the Office

Twitter Soars After Ad Spend, Video Content Increases

Twitter’s earnings report last week surely made investors happy. The company posted its first revenue growth in four quarters, driven by improvements to its app and added video content that are persuading advertisers to boost spending on the social network, according to Bloomberg. It also reported profit for the first time, after aggressively slashing spending.

From Bloomberg: “The report adds to positive momentum in recent months for Twitter, which spent the second half of 2017 explaining how Russian-linked accounts — including automated bots — influenced content on its platform around the 2016 U.S. presidential election. [CEO Jack] Dorsey has been working to broaden Twitter from a microblogging site into a destination for users to see ‘what’s happening now’ by striking live-streaming partnerships with news outlets and sports leagues.”

Some observers have questioned whether Facebook’s pain is Twitter’s gain. With Facebook’s recent news that it’s de-prioritizing brands and publishers’ organic posts, you could argue that marketers may find Twitter more attractive. It’s possible that’s true to some degree because brands and publishers still have a shot at organic reach on Twitter. But then again, it’s not necessarily a zero-sum game wherein one platform’s changes equal a total win for another.

After all, many marketers are probably spending on both platforms. And with Facebook’s tweak, the fact that brands’ organic posts will be seen less may prompt marketers to spend even more on Facebook in the form of paid posts.

Who Is Poppy?

YouTube stars have come into the spotlight recently, and not always for good reasons. A few weeks back, we wrote about YouTuber Logan Paul, who faced backlash after he posted a video of a dead body — complete with callous commentary — during a recent trip to Japan.

But there are far more interesting YouTubers who pull in hundreds of millions (or even billions) of views and sometimes millions in ad dollars. New York magazine’s The Cut last week profiled one such luminary: Poppy, a mysterious YouTuber whose persona leads some to wonder whether she is a robot and whether she’s satirizing YouTube fame or if she’s earnestly pursuing it. (Who knows!)

“Is she a robot, a troll, a high-concept art project, a postmodern cultural critique, a cult leader, a clever satirist?” asks The Cut. “Do I get the joke? Is there a joke? What is reality, even? But somehow, Poppy has confused people into paying attention to her.”

In reality, she’s an actual human, probably inspired by the likes of Andy Warhol, Banksy and Matthew Barney. She and her “collaborator-slash-Svengali-figure” Titanic Sinclair, are keenly aware how to use an identity shrouded in vagueness to their video-view (and ad dollar) advantage. She’s even becoming a pop star now, touring to promote her album. Her mystique has prompted countless YouTube conspiracy-theory videos (of course) that declare she’s a robot and/or a member of the illuminati. Again, she is a human being.

For a fascinating look at Poppy and YouTube fame, read the whole story here.

Amazon’s Echo Look Joins Forces With Vogue and GQ 

By Zuli Mohammad

Amazon is continuing to exhibit ways in which their line of Echos can work towards supporting e-commerce. Most recently, their “Echo Look” line, which includes a camera and companion app, announced its first ever publisher collaboration with Vogue and GQ that will debut on Feb. 19.

This collaboration will allow these publications to insert everything from fashion recommendations to celebrity content, some of it being shoppable, within the Echo Look’s companion app. The most exciting part of this collaboration will be how it will serve in increasing sales for certain brands. Additionally, the publisher will be receiving a cut of the sales made.

Currently, the Echo Look is only used by a small percentage of the 31 million people that use Alexa-powered devices. It is also important to note that purchasing the Echo Look can only be done after requesting an invitation (and Amazon has yet to disclose how many it has sent out), so it is unclear how many people this test will reach.

M/H is eager to see how these tests with GQ and Vogue rollout, as the results (positive or negative) will help to establish further ways in which brands can integrate into AI and help drive sales on an emerging platform.

This Week in Social: Platform User Growth Is A Long Way From Stable

Social-media platform growth is big news these days as media dollars shift from traditional channels to social. Instagram is the front-runner for platform growth, but there are deeper levels to those numbers and they paint a clearer picture of what ages are contributing to new user growth. They also can reveal where people under 25 are consuming media.

While Instagram has seen steady growth and the news is full of headlines about how Instagram released their Stories feature and essentially killed Snap — Snap isn’t done yet. According to Ad Age via eMarketer, “… Snapchat might be the new destination of choice among youth, according to eMarketer. Snapchat already has more 12- to 24-year-old users than Instagram, and is still adding more users in that age range than Instagram.”

The two more fragile platforms, Twitter and Snap, both reported positive revenue results to shareholders last week while Facebook reported the first daily user decline for the first time in recent memory. What are marketers to make of this rapidly changing landscape and how can they avoid whiplash from all the chaos? Partner with social-savvy media teams and agencies with nimble teams who are fully immersed in this constantly changing landscape.


Sunnier Side of the Office

Super Bowl Mania

Much of the past week’s coverage has been dedicated to Super Bowl stories. In case you haven’t had a chance to comb over the Super Bowl advertising coverage, here are a couple links:

Ad Age’s ad review. Among their favorites are Amazon’s Alexa ad, Tide, Sprint and Febreze.

Amazon’s Alexa ad wasn’t just a favorite at Ad Age — it won the USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter
Adweek’s top 5 ads of the Big Game.

Facebook To Prioritize Local News While Still De-prioritizing News Overall

A few weeks ago, Facebook announced sweeping changes to its newsfeed algorithm that would favor individual users over publishers and brands. In the weeks since that announcement, the company said it would, in fact, prioritize some types of news, including news from “trusted” publishers.

Last week, Facebook said it would also prioritize news articles from local publishers. And it’s testing a new section on its social network to serve as a dedicated home for local news and events.

“We identify local publishers as those whose links are clicked on by readers in a tight geographic area. If a story is from a publisher in your area, and you either follow the publisher’s Page or your friend shares a story from that outlet, it might show up higher in News Feed,” Facebook’s head of news product Alex Hardiman and head of news partnerships Campbell Brown wrote in a company blog post.

How to Achieve Social Analytics Success

By Coltin Chapman

Social media has become the chosen medium of the current generation to express their opinions, and most importantly, share pictures of the food they’ve eaten. There are millions of conversations taking place at any given moment on social media, and brands are becoming more involved in these discussions. The top 10 brands of any industry drive 70% of the total volume of conversation across that industry’s social networks.

Adweek’s “7 Social Analytics Best Practices” dives deep into key social tactics that, when practiced, help positively expand a brand’s social presence, improve a brands reputation and drive stronger campaign performance. More importantly, the data insights gained from these practices help give brands a competitive advantage. Social trend data helps identify a customer’s intent and allows marketers to deliver a more personalized and segmented experience. This is why the webinar’s best practices are rooted in how to engage consumers with social media.

M/H adheres to all of these identified best practices to deliver a premium experience for our brands and their customers. Check out the webinar to learn more how to create (and operate within) a data-driven social strategy to make your overall marketing resume stand out among other marketers.

This Week in Social: Morality Super Bowl Spot? RIP, Your Mentions

by Melissa Santiago

Brands making morality statements in Super Bowl ads is not new, but social media backlash is a growing trend brands have to prepare themselves to receive. Ahead of the Big Game, news came out that Hyundai would be moving away from their women’s empowerment spot and toward a post about fighting childhood cancer. They cited the backlash other advertisers received last year as a reason to change direction. Meanwhile, Ram went ahead with a post containing audio from MLK and it was received with a healthy dose of backlash.

Before social media was a key platform for opinions and bandwagon criticism of brands, the ad trades and mainstream media would dominate the conversation about an ad’s success. Today, brands get swift and immediate feedback. Social rallying cries to boycott or support brands can explode on Twitter and other platforms mere seconds after the spot airs.

It’s still important for brands to conduct offline qualitative research to determine how messages resonate with their user or customer base. The online conversation should not be ignored, but it also might not be a comprehensive enough basis that affects a company’s bottom line.

Sunnier Side of the Office

The Follower Factory

A large following on social media has always been an easy (albeit lazy) way to decipher how influential a person is. Savvy marketers and internet users know that’s not necessarily true, but the convention has never stopped celebrities, athletes, politicians and even some marketing consultants from buying followers to boost their audiences.

One of the problems with buying followers is that buyers are often purchasing bots and profiles that amount to social media identity theft, the latter of which are created to mimic unwitting real profiles. You’re not actually buying real engagement when you’re buying these followers, even if the bots do retweet your posts.

And although buying followers is against the terms of service for companies like Twitter, people still do get away with it and platforms are struggling to respond. And Influencer agencies have dealt with this by putting checks in place to ensure that the influencers in their networks do not buy fake followers.

This issue has been around for some time, but for an in-depth and interactive look at how fake followers are bought and the companies behind these operations, check out this New York Times story.

Amazon is targeting Google Search Budgets

Much has been said in the last couple years about Google and Facebook, better known as the marketing duopoly, whose advertising functions swallow up nearly all the growth in digital advertising and account for close to two-thirds of digital advertising revenue. Part of this narrative is identifying the next potential powerhouse to rival these giants.

Enter Amazon, which has been quietly building an advertising operation over the years. While the company may not come close to Facebook and Google just yet, Digiday reports that Amazon is going after search budgets as Amazon Marketing Services, its search marketing platform, grows rapidly.

For a look inside this burgeoning property within Amazon and its strategy, see this Digiday story.

The Impact of Digital Video on TV Viewership

By Arthi Veeraragavan

ComScore, an industry leader in ad measurement, recently conducted a research study measuring the impact of YouTube ad exposure on live TV viewership.

Results showed those exposed to content on YouTube related to an upcoming TV premiere were 17% more likely to tune into the premiere than those who were not exposed digitally.

Lift in likelihood for tune-in was even higher when exposure came in immediate proximity to the premiere date as well as high frequency:

  • 24% lift amongst those that were exposed the day of the TV premiere

  • 49% lift amongst those exposed 3+ times

  • 133% lift amongst those exposed 5+ times

So what does this mean for brands? By providing support for online video’s ability to deliver increased ratings for TV, the study sheds some light on the power of online video to “reach, inform, and engage consumers” in an efficient and scalable manner, ultimately driving impactful business results.

How to turn 50 Cent Into $7 Million

By Jessica Gaylord

Get rich or die trying. Luckily, rapper 50 Cent successfully achieved the former by becoming a Bitcoin millionaire—albeit by accident.  In 2014, the rapper let fans buy his album Animal Ambition with Bitcoin, pulling in around 700 bitcoins for a total of $400,000 at the time. Like many early cryptocurrency investors, however, his account lay dormant for years. But as the value of the cryptocurrency skyrocketed, his Bitcoin earnings are now currently worth somewhere between $7 to $8.5 million.

Upon TMZ breaking the story, 50 Cent admitted he had completely forgotten about his Bitcoin earnings but said on social media he was proud of his unexpected financial windfall. Considering he not long ago declared bankruptcy, it seems like a more than reasonable humblebrag. Good thing he was able to access his login information, or he’d have to keep chasing paper like everyone else.


Sunnier Side of the Office

Facebook To Rank News Outlets on Trustworthiness

Last week we wrote about Facebook’s algorithm overhaul in which the company announced it would prioritize posts by people’s friends rather than publishers’ and companies’ posts. Then late FridayFacebook said it would rank news outlets based on how “trustworthy” they determine them to be.

“There’s too much sensationalism, misinformation, and polarization in the world today,” said CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a post announcing the news. “Social media enables people to spread information faster than ever before, and if we don’t specifically tackle these problems, then we end up amplifying them.” He said expects a 20% drop in the number of news people see.

To do this, Facebook will poll select users to help determine what outlets are considered trustworthy.

The move will likely have far-reaching implications. From Ad Age: “The changes Facebook is making will impact the makeup of content that everyone sees every day, Facebook has more than 2 billion monthly users when they go to their News Feeds. Publishers who rely on Facebook to reach their online audiences have been concerned by the impact the new priorities could have on their businesses.”

Spotify Adds Visual Podcasts to its Programming

By Katie McKinley

Spotify announced last Thursday that it is expanding its podcasting initiative with visually-enhanced audio programming about news, entertainment, sports, and politics. The new format, called Spotlight, includes text, video, and photos as a way to supplement its audio experiences. According to Spotify’s blog, “Spotlight gives fans a deeper insight to their favorite artists, playlists, books, publishers and more by offering contextual visual elements.”

Spotlight will provide content in a playlist format with visual elements available through the Spotify app. Spotify’s head of Studio and Video, Courtney William Holt, explains that the new playlist format “merges great storytelling, news, information and opinion” and “play[s] an important role in the daily lives of [Spotify] users bringing them closer to the creators they love”.

 Spotify is launching with content from its current partners, including BuzzFeed News, Cheddar, Crooked Media, Lenny Letter, Gimlet Media, Uninterrupted, Refinery29 a, d Genius, as well as with content from Spotify’s original series, RISE, Secret Genius, Spotify Singles, and Viva Latino. The feature is currently only available in the U.S. and will eventually expand to other countries.

 As the world’s biggest streaming music service, the new initiative is an effort for Spotify to differentiate itself from its competitors including Apple Music and Pandora, as well as to further compete with YouTube. The implications for advertisers in still to be determined, but M/H will monitor as updates are released.

Twitter Notifies Almost 700,000 Users About Russian Tweets

By now we’ve all heard about the Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, some of it through an elaborate social media scheme by Kremlin-connected Internet Research Agency. Details are still trickling out. Last week, Twitter said it found more than 1,000 Twitter accounts linked to the IRA and that the company will notify nearly 700,000 users who followed or otherwise interacted with the accounts (which have since been suspended).

“After the 2016 election, we launched our Information Quality initiative to further develop strategies to detect and prevent bad actors from abusing our platform,” said the company in a post. “We have since made significant improvements while recognizing that we have more to do as these patterns of activity develop and shift over time.”

Read more at Ad Age.

This Week In Social: Mainstream Memes

By Melissa Santiago

Memes are a growing segment of online culture and are a bit of shorthand for die-hard internet culture junkies. Memes rarely leave social platforms, but Tide Pods are blazing a new trail. Tide Pods have always been an ill-advised forbidden treat appealing to children under 5 since their market release, forcing P&G to tweak their packaging multiple times; however, around 2015 memes about the adult fascination with ingesting the pods started to circulate on message boards and in satirical publications like The Onion.

The meme resurfaced in late 2017, but this time the conversation has bubbled up beyond the typical social reach of memes. Major media outlets are covering the phenomenon either seriously or satirically including The New Yorker and SNL. While the idea of ingesting a laundry pod is comical because it’s so absurd, YouTube has had to remove videos of people actually eating Tide Pods, media outlets are warning people not to eat them, and Time reports that Poison Control calls for teens “misusing” laundry pods in January alone is higher than all incidents reported in all of 2016.

Tide also relied on celebrity, influencer endorsement to tell people not to eat their product via a social video—a use-case for influencers that even the savviest social media professional could not have predicted.